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Smith says "CAP must ensure security of Food Supply and maintain Family Farming in Europe"

  • Critical importance of strong and adequately resourced CAP

  • Decoupled direct payments remain the best way of underpinning the incomes of small family farms

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today said that the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) must "ensure security of food supply and maintain family farming in Europe."

The Minister was speaking during a special debate on the future of the CAP post-2013 in the Seanad, during which he set out some of his views in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the future of the CAP.  Minister Smith explained that those negotiations were taking place against the background of an EU budget review and a new EU Financial Perspective for the period 2014 to 2020.

Minister Smith emphasised his commitment to ensuring that Ireland would play a central and very active role in the negotiations, and emphasised the role that Ireland had played in achieving the declaration signed up to by 22 like-minded Member States in Paris last December on the importance of a strong and properly resourced CAP in the future.

Minister Smith said that "the single biggest issue now emerging is the amount of funding that will be available for the CAP after 2013, in view of pressures to reduce the EU budget, to reduce the share going to agriculture and to reduce the share going to Irish agriculture."

Referring to the single farm payment system, the Minister stressed "the starting point for Ireland is that we see no compelling reason to change from the current historical model for determining single payments.  We see the historical model as having the distinct advantage in linking the payment with level of farming activity, albeit farming activity in 2000-2002."  The Minister said however that Ireland was in a small minority of Member States who took this view. "While I am prepared to look at the alternatives, particularly if other countries move from the "historic camp", there is a need, however, to find a basis that is acceptable and fair to all Member States and that meets our objectives of improved competitiveness and sustainability"

Minister Smith also expressed his support for the continuation of a strong decoupled direct payments system, which he described as "fundamental to stabilising farm incomes at times of market volatility".  The Minister said that "direct payments remain the best way of underpinning the incomes of small family farms, while allowing them respond to market opportunities."  In terms of market supports, Mr Smith said "we must retain the capacity and flexibility to react promptly and effectively to market instability and price volatility."

Minister Smith said that the "core purpose of rural development policy is to support farmers in developing their productive capacity while securing the environment and ensuring the well-being of the wider rural society."  The Minister confirmed his support for the continuation of a two-pillar structure and described the recently revised Rural Development Programme as having "focused on competitiveness in the form of targeted investments and sustainability in the form of an agri-environment scheme with benefits for all."

While acknowledging that the negotiations on the future of the CAP "will be difficult", the Minister stressed that he is "determined to ensure the best possible outcome for Irish agriculture."

Date Released: 12 May 2010